SIDELINE OBSERVATIONS: My hero, my dad, Jim Dickson, is turning 80

Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 04:26 PM.

Dad wasn’t just my coach. He was the coach of hundreds of boys through the years. Occasionally, I’ll still have an old friend mention the time they played for my dad.

As is often the case with 50-something men, most don’t remember specific strategies or fundamentals he coached, but rather we recall that he cared and he gave of himself as he invested in their life.

Dad taught me many of life’s lessons on a baseball diamond or old asphalt basketball court. He was a stickler for fundamentals like catching a baseball with two hands and the old two-hand set shot in basketball.

He didn’t go much for showboating. And he believed you didn’t need talent to hustle. Dad could tell how hard someone hustled by the grass stains on their baseball uniform or the floor burns they got while going for a loose basketball.

Sundays in the fall were my favorite day when, after church, we would watch the New Orleans Saints play football. Being good Baptists, we usually left for evening services before the second game was over, but that was OK, too.

We watched college football together, too, but back in the day before cable TV, our team, the Tennessee Volunteers, was on just a couple of times a year so we had to make the most of those moments.

The lessons Dad taught me about sports were important, but they pale in comparison to the lessons he taught me about faith and life. Dad knew it was more important for me to be a good Christian and a good man than to be a good athlete. As he turns 80, he is still leading the way in those all-important areas of life.

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